Raines out, Yeley in at HOF Hall of Fame Racing has signed J.J. Yeley to drive for the No. 96 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2008. Yeley’s debut in the No. 96 DLP HDTV car will come in February’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. His entry into the prestigious event came via his first career pole at Michigan International Speedway this past June.
“In 23 years of being involved in professional sports, I have worked with many great athletes,” said Jeff Moorad, owner of Hall of Fame Racing. “J.J Yeley’s determination to succeed reminds me of many of the championship athletes that I have been around in my career. He is hungry and determined to win races and championships and to do it with class. We look forward to J.J. being an integral part of Hall of Fame Racing and to winning with him going forward.”
Yeley comes to Hall of Fame Racing from Joe Gibbs Racing, the team for which he drove full-time in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series beginning in 2006. Yeley will take over for Tony Raines, current driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet, following the conclusion of the 2007 season.
“After meeting with Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel it was easy to see why both of them have been so successful with the Arizona Diamondbacks and their other past ventures,” said Yeley, whose contract with Hall of Fame Racing runs through the 2010 season. “Both of them are very determined to be successful. They know you can’t just come in and throw money at the team and expect to win races. The benefit of this team is that there’s already a great history and foundation in place with equipment from Joe Gibbs Racing, which is equal to the best equipment in the sport. All those things added up to make me feel that Hall of Fame Racing and DLP will be the best fit for me.”
Yeley brings a strong motorsports pedigree to Hall of Fame Racing. The son of seven-time Arizona Midget Racing Association and two-time World of Outlaws midget champion “Cactus” Jack Yeley, J.J. came to stock cars by way of open-wheel midget and sprint cars in the U.S. Auto Club (USAC), and it was his outstanding 2003 season that put him top-of-mind among Nextel Cup car owners.
The second-generation driver from Phoenix reeled off an amazing 24 USAC wins in 2003, breaking the single-season record set by racing legend A.J. Foyt, who won 19 races during the 1961 season. In addition, Yeley became only the second driver in USAC history to win the “Triple Crown” by capturing the Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown championships in a single season, joining his current Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart as the only other driver to accomplish that feat (1995). Yeley has two other USAC championships along with an Indianapolis 500 start in 1998. But it’s NASCAR that Yeley now calls home, as his 68 career Nextel Cup starts and 110 NASCAR Busch Series starts attest.
“When you leave an organization like Joe Gibbs Racing, one of the top teams in NASCAR, you want to try to make the right step to be more successful,” said Yeley, who finished a career-best second in May at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C) Motor Speedway. “I’ve never had to make a decision this difficult in my life, but I’m confident that Hall of Fame Racing will be competitive week-in and week out and build the future team around me as their driver. The affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the great people in Phoenix was just an added bonus that makes it the perfect fit for me.”
“We are very much looking forward to J.J. representing DLP and our retail partners,” said Dave Duncan, sponsorship marketing manager for DLP® Products and Texas Instruments. “We’ve had a relationship with J.J. the past two seasons as an associate sponsor on the No. 18 car and look forward to working with him in the future.”
“It’s been great to see DLP come into the sport,” Yeley said. “I have a TV in my bonus room that’s a 61-inch DLP HDTV that is a favorite of my family. They’re just a great sponsor that I’ve had an affiliation with in the past and I’m looking forward to being a part of this team. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to take them to victory lane.”
Yeley replaces Tony Raines, who has driven for Hall of Fame Racing the past two seasons and will drive the final 11 races in 2007.
“I very much enjoyed working with everyone at Hall of Fame Racing and DLP,” Raines said. “I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me and both companies are class organizations. We had some success, especially in the Car of Tomorrow (COT) races and I look forward to running the final 11 races, including the five COT races. We’re going to do our best to finish out strong before we go our separate ways. I wish them the best of luck in 2008 and beyond.”